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Five Key Insights that Can Bring Traffic Back to Brick & Mortar Retailers this Holiday Season

Recent years have seen brick & mortar shopping on the decline, especially among younger generations. Yet, consumers still report several positive associations with in-person purchasing. We’ve compiled five key takeaways from recent research on the drivers of Gen Z and Millennial consumer behavior that retailers should note when developing their messaging and strategy around brick & mortar retail this holiday season.

Recent years have seen brick & mortar shopping on the decline, especially among younger generations. This can be attributed to a confluence of factors: newly acquired pandemic behaviors, the convenience of online shopping, and Gen Z and Millennial preferences for experiences over traditional retail. How can brick & mortar retailers best attract and cater to consumers to capitalize on the busiest retail period of the year? We’ve compiled five key takeaways from new YCCI research on the positive sentiments of Gen Z and Millennial consumers towards in-person shopping for retailers to note when developing their messaging and strategy this holiday season.

Rediscovering Community
While there is a general trend towards online shopping, consumers nevertheless reported that shopping in person, particularly around crowds, produced a positive sense of community. This was particularly valuable to consumers following prolonged periods of isolation during the pandemic. Shopping provided a venue where consumers could be surrounded by others without having to directly interact with them. This sense of unity with other shoppers provided consumers with comfort. Retailers might experiment with messaging that emphasizes the community aspect of shopping to drive brick & mortar visits.

Seeking Chance Discoveries
Gen Z and Millennial consumers believe that in person shopping, especially in a setting with multiple vendors, can lead one to serendipitously happening across a new item or experience. This excitement for discovery applies to a broad range of things, from encountering new food options to new fashion styles. Retailers can target younger generations in their messaging by emphasizing this aspect of the brick & mortar shopping experience. Younger consumers that seek to capture or share things that are out of their ordinary respond to messaging that highlights unique vendors or products. References to what can be discovered in store, even gesturing toward the shopper’s own renewed sense of self, can activate consumers towards in-person shopping.

Gaining Instant Gratification
Another benefit perceived by consumers is the ability to have the product in hand directly after purchase when in-person shopping. Both the anticipation of this experience, and the gratifying satisfaction that follows are a strong motivator towards in-person purchasing. This gratification is explained partially by what we call the “new shoe feeling,” a confidence boost granted to the wearer associated with an excitement regarding when and where they will show off their new purchases. Messaging that emphasized this aspect of the shopping experience increased the likelihood that consumers would seek out a brick & mortar shopping experience by up to 16%.

A Confidence Boost
Beyond purchases themselves, consumers reported a confidence boost from simply procuring and carrying shopping bags. This behavior, indicative of a shopping spree, signals one’s wealth and ability to make purchases, leading to a positive change in self-image. Highlighting this in your messaging can increase positive sentiments regarding in-person shopping experiences. Imagery of shopping sprees wherein a figure is holding multiple shopping bags might be used to encourage brick & mortar visits.

A Time to Bond
For many, in-person shopping is a group activity that allows for bonding. Families particularly view shopping at a mall as an important backdrop for many coming-of-age moments, like ear-piercing or purchasing outfits for religious ceremonies or prom. Featuring your retail location as a gathering place, and punctuating this with language or imagery on critical life moments can drive both the likelihood of a visit and the time spent in store. This holiday season, consider positioning your retail location as the site of consumers’ yearly holiday pilgrimage with loved ones.

To uncover more insights around the drivers of consumer behavior, reach out to us at